236 B- POLEVOI
Alexei's ears from the open window, the door opened and
Burnazyan rushed out looking very heated. He shot an
angry glance at Alexei and hobbled into the park, look-
ing straight before him and shouting:
""Bureaucrats! Bunny-holers! What do they know
about aviation? Do they think it's a ballet?. . . Short
leg!. . . Damned enemas and syringes, that's all they are!"
Alexei was conscious of a cold feeling in the pit of
his stomach, but he walked into the room at a brisk pace,
cheerful and smiling. The commission sat at a long table.
Towering in the centre like a mountain of flesh sat Army
Surgeon First Rank Mirovolsky. At a side table, in front
of a pile of case cards, sat Zinochka, small and pretty
like a doll in her white, starched smock, with a wisp of
red hair peeping coquettishly from under her gauze ker-
chief. She handed Alexei his case card and softly pressed
"Now, young man, strip to the waist," said the surgeon,
screwing up his eyes.
Meresyev had not indulged in his exercises in vain.
The surgeon could not help admiring his fine, well-devel-
oped body, every muscle of which could be seen bulging
under the dark skin.
"You would do as a model for a statue of David," said
a member of the commission, showing off his knowledge.
Meresyev easily passed all the tests. His handgrip was
fifty per cent above the standard, and in the respiration
test he blew the indicator up to the highest limit. His
blood pressure was normal, his nerves in excellent con-
dition. In the end he pulled the steel handle of the
strength-testing machine so hard that he broke the
"A pilot?" inquired the surgeon, looking pleased; and
making himself more comfortable in his seat he began
to write his decision in the upper corner of "Case Card.
Senior Lieutenant Meresyev, A. P."
"Well, go and fight! They want fellows like you over
there, want them badly!. . . By the by, what were yon
lad up with?"